Hard to reach

23 June 2007

This is a depressingly familiar telephone conversation:

"I'm glad I've got hold of you. You're very difficult to get hold of."

"Am I? Why?"

"I've been trying to call you, but this is the first time you've answered the phone."

"Did you try leaving a message? I didn't get any voicemails from you and it's a bit difficult to return a call if I don't know who's calling."

"No, I didn't leave a message."

"So why are you telling me I'm hard to reach?"

"Er..."

This kind of episode annoys me more than it should, but it's surprisingly common for me to get back from a meeting and check the caller ID on the phone to see the same numbers come up time and again from PRs who, frankly, are never going to get in touch because they won't leave a message. This, apparently, goes down in the reports prepared for their clients as "attempted to contact".

As Charles Arthur pointed out recently, asynchronous communication works very well with journalists. Try using it: leave a message or, better still, send an email. That way, I'll know if you are trying to get in touch with me and it doesn't matter where in the world I happen to be: I can pick up phone messages more or less anywhere, which is why I don't tend to publish my mobile number widely. Channelling Uri Geller, on the other hand, is not nearly so effective.